Remember those 14-3 Suns? The ones that didn't let any team come back after a big lead and the ones who played very good defense to close out games? They were back tonight and with a vengeance.
It sounds cliché but there's only one way to describe this team. They are the basketball equivalent of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After losing to the Golden State Warriors (playing no defense at all) everyone was left wondering if the Suns were going to be able to compete against elite teams. Suns fans were putting their heads down after looking at the schedule and thinking that December was going to get even worse. Alvin Gentry and The Suns had something to say about that.
The Suns had a different attitude in this game. They knew they were the underdogs, there was nothing to lose. Just go out there and have fun, play with confidence, enjoy the game. They were not tense like in the previous two meetings with the Lakers, they weren't looking at them and thinking "Damn, they are the champs and they have the best player in the league, how can we win this game?" They rose to the challenge just like they did against Boston, San Antonio and Orlando earlier this season.
But how did they do it? Let's take a look at the fun facts after the jump.
The Suns bench outscored the Lakers bench 52-31. Jared Dudley had a monster game shooting 3-4 from three point land and 6-10 overall. He finished with a career high 19 points. His three point shots seemed to always come at the right time. Whenever the Lakers seemed to make a push to cut the lead...Pam! There's Jared sinking a three point shot. But he wasn't alone. Barbosa contributed with 11 points, Frosty had 14 and even Robin Lopez got on the board with 8 points and 4-4 shooting from the field.
Amar'e (Max Contract) Stoudemire
All I can say is "Wow". Amar'e had a monster game tonight. He had 26 points. He was scoring inside, shooting from the perimeter, penetrating, getting And 1s. This man could not be stopped tonight. He torched everyone who was guarding him. He did have 3 turnovers but overall his performance was superb. He had a great run of 10 consecutive shots in the second quarter to maintain the lead. Big game for STAT. I bet this will quiet down the trade talks, at least for now.
Steve (The awesome) Nash
You are right, Steve. You are indeed awesome. Nash was not bothered by Fisher's defense. He even got under Derek's skin a bit, prompting Fisher to push him on the floor after a foul had been called. Steve did whatever the hell he wanted with the Lakers defense tonight. He went to score 16 points and had 13 assists. It's amazing how he always finds the open man. If you are open he will find you. As a former point guard myself it's a pleasure and a blessing to watch him play.
I wonder if Jon Barry watched this game. If he did he's going to have trouble sleeping tonight. How is it possible that his two favorite statements didn't come true in this game?
-Suns play no defense-
Ok, so how do you explain that the Lakers shot 43% from the field? The Suns were contesting every shot, going for every rebound and rotating well on defense. They were hustling and they always seemed a step ahead of the Lakers.
-Suns let you back in the game-
Not this time. The bench stepped up big time to maintain and even extend the lead in the 4th quarter. The only starter on the floor was Frye and LB, Frosty, Lopez and Dudley continued to play great basketball to allow Nash to rest for the first 7 minutes of the Quarter. That's right. Nash rested 7 minutes in the 4th Q. Against the Lakers.
Everyone but Kobe stinking up the place
Kobe Bryant did his best to keep his team close. He scored 34 points but he was the only one who was consistent in the offensive end. Andrew Bynum was a non factor most of the game due to foul trouble and Pau Gasol seemed uncomfortable while being guarded by Stat. He scored 13 points and had 4 TO and a -21 on the +/- column. Talk about laying an egg.
As I said before, the players had a different attitude tonight. They were loose and having fun. They were hyped up every time the scored or made a great play. I wish they would play like this every night.
This is a great win for us. They desperately needed a win like this to get them out of the slump and wake them up a bit. Definitely a confidence boost for the team. The Suns were the better team tonight. Let's hope they can learn that this is the way to play championship basketball and that once you get used to playing like this...there's no turning back.
Stan is working on game quotes, inside information from players and more. So stay tuned.
Great Win! Go Suns!